Recognized on Forbes’ 2018 “America’s Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors” list, Christopher Ficara, WG’18, credits Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives with helping him add more value in his job as a senior vice president and wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch.
Having worked as a financial advisor since college, Chris was leading an investment and advisory group at Merrill Lynch before he came to Wharton. “I wasn’t planning to change careers. Coming to Wharton was about growing personally and professionally — to challenge myself. I also believe that investing in yourself with education is the best investment you can make,” he said.
At Wharton, he took electives in areas of interest and to fill knowledge gaps. “I am a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), so I focused on areas like marketing, management, and entrepreneurship instead of finance. This program is making a career impact by helping me to do what I’ve been doing better and to take our investment group to the next level.”
“I now think about my organization differently,” Chris explained. He has put processes, internal controls, and structures in place so his team can drive toward initiatives as a business and grow. “We’re already seeing results. This will be our group’s best year as well as our best rate of growth,” he said.
Tangible Results Beyond the Numbers
The program also helped Chris with client relationships — the knowledge and perspective he gained led to better conversations with clients and prospective clients. “I have a deeper knowledge of business and what is happening in the world. The Wharton brand is recognized and highly respected,” he said. He’s also appreciated the opportunity to practice the “soft skills” he learned in classes like Influence, Negotiations, Communications, and Leadership.
At Wharton’s San Francisco campus, Chris met classmates from diverse professional backgrounds much different from his own. “This was a huge positive because I wanted to grow and get exposure to new industries. I also wanted to get exposure to the ecosystem of San Francisco, which has an entrepreneurial vibe,” he said. “This is the place to come to do something and that is exciting. You can really grow in this type of environment.”
While he plans to continue as a wealth advisor, Chris used the Wharton network to explore his interests in angel investing and advising startups. “You need knowledge, opportunities and a network to do those things, and I have all of those from Wharton.”
During the program, his new perspective inspired him to move from San Diego to San Francisco. “I wanted to get new experiences and more exposure to the Bay Area ecosystem. Halfway through the program, I decided to change things up and make this happen by moving to San Francisco. I now split my time between the two cities,” he said.
“Wharton changes your life because it gives you the confidence to push boundaries and take risks to do what you want to do instead of what you think you need to do.”
— Meghan Laska
Posted: March 1, 2019